24 NOVEMBER 1990, Page 56

Low life

Fall guy

Jeffrey Bernard

The last of the autumn leaves have now fallen in the garden beneath my bedroom window and I too have fallen for the third time this year. Last Monday evening, getting out of a taxi, I tripped over my shopping bags and hit my skull an almighty crack on the pavement. The neighbours were awfully nice about it and even the taxi-driver stayed with me until the ambu- lance arrived. One man took my keys out of my pocket so that he could get into my flat to put my shopping in the fridge and another fetched a cushion to put under the throbbing skull, and a blanket.

As he bent down to spread the blanket over me he said, 'You're Jeffrey Bernard, aren't you?' I told him I was and as my head began to clear a bit I thought what a bloody cheek. Did he assume I was who I am because I was lying on a pavement? I would like to know. So, lying there in a soft drizzle, I though of autumn leaves. The bonfire is getting closer, I thought, or should I make a will and opt to be re- cycled in the compost heap of a cemetery? Anyway, by the next evening I had recovered sufficiently to stagger into Christie's for the launch of a new book, When We Were Young, a Quartet paper- back (£8.95) published in aid of fighting 'I'm still undecided about minimalist music.' leukemia with the Sharon Allen Leukemia Trust. It is an interesting book although I feel a little out of place having my youthful face opposite Joan Collins as a little girl. My friend Stephen Pickles produced the book and it was his idea of a joke, I think. She can't be best pleased. Too bad.

What irritated me about the party was that they were only serving champagne. I am very much against that sort of hospital- ity. There should always be a choice of Spirits at any party. It is misguided hospi- tality to assume that everybody wants to drink champagne. Strictly-only-wine par- ties are revolting. Stephen went out for a While and returned with some nourishing vodka and I began to feel less like an autumn leaf. God knows where he got it from. I don't know of a pub in that area. I had wanted to meet Joan Collins out of idle curiosity, there is something faintly ridicu- lous about her, but the head began to ache again so I went home.

But speaking of champagne only, why do people try to impose their likes and dislikes on others? My daughter told me last week that she has got a room in a flat belonging to a friend of hers. She went home one night last week to cook a piece of chicken for her supper and was told she was not allowed to bring any meat into the flat. Vegetarian only. I have never heard such balls. Can guests only smoke Players and drink Stolichnaya in my flat? Whatev- er became of the meaning of make yourself at home? Will teetotallers become quite mad and only offer water in their homes? What annoys me about this vegetarian landlady business particularly is that the daughter thinks it reasonable of her to ban Meat. When they both came here last they made a big enough dent in the Remy Martin I keep for friends. Next time I shall hide it, fry steaks and they can like it or lump it.

Anyway, to hell with it all. I am going back to bed to nurse the skull. If this friendship between my head and the streets and pavements of London continues I shall go and live in a swamp or marsh. You don't see frogs waiting on their backs for ambu- lances.